The joy of the Llyn peninsula and Wales

Harlech Castle is a grade 1 listed medieval fortification which was built by Edward1 during his invasion of Wales between 1282-1289. It’s an hour’s drive from Abersoch. You follow the coast road past Criccieth and through Porthmadog. It’s a fast quiet road and it was a spectacularly good sunny day, an amazing blue sky and full ocean vista. In the distance the fairy tale like Port Merion clinging on the hillside all, turrets and pastels. That’s on the visit list too. Awesome. We went on the bike and arrived for our pre booked slot of 11am.

It is a very steep and windy road up to the castle.The entrance fee is £7 and is very well organised with lots of very helpful, friendly staff on hand. It has parking, a cafe within the grounds and the ubiquitous gift shop.

The castle was built in 1272 by Edward1, the King of the castles ( he built most of the castles in Wales) and it took 6 years to build and cost £8,000. It sits on a rocky crag high up overlooking the dunes with the magnificent Snowdonia range of mountains as a backdrop and looking right back at Abersoch over the bay.

You can walk the top ramparts and see where all the rooms and different floors would have been with the fireplaces. There are the four corner turrets, a well, a room full of stone cannonballs (ouch) and big open spaces.

At the entrance are four towers with the arrow slits and killing corridor where they poured the boiling oil and fired their bows once you got in..but you didn’t leave!

There is, just outside the castle walls, a very, how shall I put this, interesting modern statue. From the high ramparts I thought it was a cow with a human figure on his back but no, not quite…when we came out of the castle and looked at the statue it was an emaciated horse with a man, no arms or legs with a dead body sort of draped over the back of the horse and human limbs where they shouldn’t be. It was unusual and gruesome but historic..

The town of Harlech is really narrow, squiggly roads and quaint tiny houses and shops all intermingled. Some were at an elevation a mountain goat would struggle with! One of the roads has the title of the steepest road in the UK. It was a hot sunny day and the numerous ice cream parlours and cafes were doing a roaring trade.

One up one down

The song ‘Men of Harlech’ was written in the 1460’s here during the longest siege (7 years) in British history between the Lancastrians who held the castle, from the Yorkists. The song described the events that took place. It was an interesting day out we enjoyed the castle and the town.

Plas Glen-y-weddw is a Victorian gothic styled mansion house near the beach in Llanbedrog, the next bay up from Abersoch. It was built in 1857 by Sir Love Jones Parry of Madryn and was never lived in, it was built for his wife but eventually just housed all her art.

It has a spectacular Jacobean style staircase and beautiful stained glass

It is now an art gallery with an in-house cafe and bakery and some accommodation set at the back of the house. It’s set in beautiful grounds. We went to an open air cinema showing of Grease a few years ago with the sea in front and mountains in the background. I was really surprised that Chris, having known the area for 40 years, had never been before. The gallery houses ever changing exhibitions of local and well known artists in many formats. Traditional art, ceramics, wood exhibits it’s eclectic. In the summer they have outdoor concerts, art workshops, craft fairs and other activities, it’s well worth a visit.

Cakes look and are scrumptious, perfect fuel after a walk along the wooded paths overlooking Llanbedrog beach.

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